The Australian government announced Thursday that it will begin a new search operation for Malaysian plane disappeared last March after further analysis of satellite data. Underwater explorations now focus south of the area that was initially targeted as the final destination of the flight MH370, about 1,800 kilometers from west coast of Australia.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, also said that investigators believe the plane was on autopilot mode at the time of the incident, on 8 March. The aircraft, with 239 passengers on board, disappeared on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The trip had lasted six hours, but the aircraft lost contact with control tower only 40 minutes after takeoff.

The underwater search will restart in August and will last one year, if the plane is not found before. The ship Fugro Equator, hired by Australia, and the ship Zhu Kezhen of the Chinese navy take several weeks working on the development of a map of the seabed, the Deputy Prime Minister has indicated.

On 18 March, the authorities defined the search area in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, some 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth. Ten days after the trace is moved north, 1,800 kilometers southwest of the city. The following month was when it was believed that acoustic signals of the black boxes were heard and the search was further moved north.

Search operation still focus along an arc in the Indian Ocean where experts estimate that the plane ran out of fuel and the satellites last detected its signals. British satellite operator Inmarsat said this week that investigators have not yet traced the area where they believe the plane crashed.

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